History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

Teaching Issues

Compulsory history to 16: is the momentum is building?

Happy New Year and welcome to historyresourcecupboard’s new look website and blog. The blog has been added to keep you up to date with all things history teaching. Let’s face it – there is a lot going on at the moment.  At the back end of 2011, a little like many  a Wigan Casino regular,  the momentum for compulsory history to 16  picked up speed.

Firstly, in November 2011 Sir David Cannadine, Jenny Keaton and Nicola Sheldon published their ground breaking work on the history of history teaching in England in the 20th century: The Right Kind of History. What a brilliant piece of research. They have blown holes in the myth that there was a ‘golden age’ of history teaching where everyone who went to school was taught and subsequently remembered all of Britain’s most important facts and dates.

They go on to recommend that history should be a compulsory subject for all up to the age of 16 in English schools.  Professor Cannadine argued on the BBC against further ‘tinkering’ with the history curriculum and said that he could not see why Britain is not on an equal footing to the rest of Europe where history is taught to 16.

Secondly, in December 2011 the national curriculum expert panel,  made up of such luminaries as Professor Dylan Wiliam, proposed that current optional subjects at 14: history, geography, design technology and the arts, should be studied to 16.  We need to be clear here. They did not recommend that history is made a core subject alongside Maths and English, but they do recommend that it should be compulsory to 16 alongside other foundation subjects and should be taught post 14, but not necessarily to GCSE level.

Let’s face it; the issue of compulsory history has been hotly debated ever since it was omitted at the last minute from the 1991 national curriculum. But the argument has only really taken place amongst those who have a vested interest: the history and history teaching community. Now big hitters like Dylan Wiliam and David Cannadine have weighed into the argument, alongside the likes of Simon Schama.  Let’s hope they really can pack a punch and carry some real weight where it counts.

Wouldn’t it be great if history was taught to all with different relevant and stimulating courses were available which gave proper access to history for all of our youngsters post Key Stage 3?

There is an awful long way to go on the issue of compulsory history between now and 2014. We need to keep pushing and arguing that history is meaningful subject of all. Let’s keep the faith and keep the momentum going and we may achieve our goal.

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